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An introduction to geothermal heat pumps

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One of the most efficient and effective means of heating your home is using a geothermal heat pump. Providing both heat and hot water, more homeowners are discovering the benefits that this system can offer their home in terms of convenience, budget savings and eco-friendly operation.

 

A Geothermal heat pump draws heat from a few meters below the earth’s surface and these systems can be installed on both new construction and existing homes. Geothermal heat pumps offer a high-level of homeowner satisfaction when compared to conventional heating systems.

 

A geothermal heat pump pulls heat from the earth, or a groundwater source in some cases, into your home in the winter and does the opposite function in summer. This is done by using piping loops as a heating source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer.

 

A few meters below the earth’s surface, the temperature is relatively consistent throughout the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer, average temperatures can range between 7 to 21 degrees Celsius. A geothermal heat pump system will exchange heat with the earth through a heat exchange system, rather than with the air, as is the method of traditional air-conditioning.

 

 

The operating efficiencies of a geothermal heat pump system will more than pay for the installation and equipment with just a few seasons of operation. While the start-up costs may be a little more than a traditional air-con system, the geothermal heat pump is an effective means of cooling and heating that offers a much better-operating efficiency that an air-con system and the savings on your cooling and heating bill will carry those savings to your house-hold budget.

 

An average three tonne unit that would be used in an average residential installation would be almost twice the price of a conventional air-con system, however, when we consider the impact of the cost-savings on operations, we could see that the system will eventually pay for itself through reduced energy consumption of heating and cooling your homes air. Water heating is a huge expense on your monthly energy bill and with a geothermal heat pump solution, the heat that is removed from the home in the summer is diverted by the system and used to heat the water in your home, meaning that you no longer have to rely on a traditional geyser system to heat your water.

 

The advantages of Geothermal heat pumps

 

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GHP solutions are a fantastic means of heating and cooling your home, let’s look at a few of the many advantages that makes an installation of this system, the top choice for your new or existing residence.

 

They are very durable and long-lasting, with less mechanical components than a typical heating and cooling system. With the average life-span of a unit being more than 20 years, the GHP offers a reliable and low-maintenance solution. Piping used on an installation should be good for up to 50 years and provided that your unit is of good quality and installed correctly, you should hardly ever encounter any problems with the systems operation.

GHP systems are typically installed with ductwork, making its operation near silent and un-intrusive on your living space as all of the system components are either installed in the roof, or mounted on walls or roofs outside. This makes the GHP a complete system for use all-year round in the summer and the winter to give you the optimal climate conditions that you desire in your home. You can also check our guide to heat pump systems here.

Along with the ducted installation comes a low-level of operating noise. The ducting system is connected to the unit which is mounted in an area of the home outside, that is away from any living spaces. This means that there is next to no noise inside the living spaces.

If you live in a humid area, then a GHP can also assist you with controlling the relative humidity inside your home, keeping levels at a consistent 50% relative humidity, which allows for comfortable living. Humidity levels above 55% can be both uncomfortable to live in as surfaces in the house become damp or wet, as well as the possible health risks associated with high-humidity such as respiratory issues and breeding of parasites such as dust mites. A GHP will keep you home at just the right temperature and humidity, all-year round.

 

The efficient operation of Geothermal heat pumps

 

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GHP solutions have been the top choice of contractors when fitting systems to new construction. When combining a GHP with intelligent room and building design, it is possible to achieve incredibly low energy consumption costs.

 

In side-by-side testing between gas powered, GHP and traditional air-conditioning systems, the GHP system proved to be the most efficient and effective system for both cooling and heating, making them the ideal solution for any operating environment, with savings on energy costs of up to 70% when compared to a traditional means of controlling the home’s interior climate.

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Geothermal heat pumps can have a reduction on energy consumption and emissions of up to 44% when compared to traditional air-source heat pumps and up to 72% when compared to electric resistance heating from standard air-conditioning units.

 

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Most municipalities and utility providers will offer a rebate if you install energy efficient equipment to your home. Check with your local authority, or air-conditioning specialist about the rebates that you may qualify for with your new GHP system. If you are having a new home built, then its wise to consider having the GHP system installed in your home and written into the original mortgage costs, this allows you to finance the system and enjoy the energy savings costs from day one, while being able to pay the system off over the life of your mortgage.

 

Geothermal heat pumps are the system of an eco-friendly future. High energy efficiency and user satisfaction make GHP the best option for homeowners to consider. Not only will they save money and energy, they will have an impact on reducing house-hold emissions and providing indoor comfort while reducing your carbon footprint.

 

 

Installation of a Geothermal Heat pump

 

 

Any homeowner that installs a GHP system has positive things to say about the operating efficiencies and the cost savings that they experience but it’s important to note that these systems carry both higher equipment and installation costs. The start up for a GHP system can be hefty but if you take advantage of financing or rebates as we previously mentioned, then you may get some relief from the initial costs.

 

The reason for the high installation costs are that installing a GHP system is not a job that the homeowner should undertake themselves. It is a good idea to leave the installation up to the professionals and let them undertake the task for you.

 

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A five-tonne ground source, heat exchanger connects to the home with five horizontal loops, totaling nearly 1000 meters of pipe, buried at a depth of 2.4 meters, next to the home. The installation of your system involves laying pipework underground and requires digging around the home, special precaution needs to be taken to avoid all electrical and water systems that may be buried around the installation site.

 

Then benefits of using professionals to do you installation is that they have experience in the area and usually will offer a guarantee on their workmanship. Should anything go wrong with your system, they will be able to quickly identify and fix the problem as they fitted it and understand it. Doing the job yourself could put your new, expensive equipment in jeopardy. If any of the components are damaged due to negligence on installation, then the manufacturer will most likely refuse to replace the unit, leaving you with a high replacement cost that could have been avoided by using a professional, experience installation team. When you are looking to purchase a geothermal heat pumps, then make sure that you chose a dealer or agent that offers top-quality products with warranty’s, offered at affordable prices and guaranteed installation.

 

The final word

 

 

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In case studies of GHP systems with new home-owners they produced exceptional heating and cooling results. Homeowners are most satisfied with the systems efficacy in operation, cooling the home quietly and effectively while decreasing consumption, resulting in lower energy bills from the utility provider.

 

An example of a home that heats and cools efficiently using energy-efficient features from ceiling to floor, with cellulose insulation in the walls and attics, sealed ductwork, and efficient doors, windows, lighting and a geothermal heat pump that heats and cools the house while providing hot water with a desuperheater, that takes heat produced by the air-conditioning process and uses it for heating the water. The desuperheater ensures that the heat exchange reaches maximum operating efficiency and eliminates the need for geysers.

 

Should you choose a GHP system for your home, you will benefit from all the living comforts and cost savings, while reducing your carbon footprint and your house-hold emissions, making your home eco-friendly and efficient, Let GHP systems change the way you think about heating and cooling your home while maximising your quality of life.

If you have any questions at all then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of the GMC Thermal Solutions team today. You can contact us here.

About 

GMC Aircon was established 20 years ago, in that time we have built a solid reputation based on our reliability, expertise and the highest ethical standards. We are now one of South Africa’s leaders in both business and home airconditioning units as well as heat pumps and thermal solutions.

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